Tragic Details About Meat Loaf

Back in the seventies, Meat Loaf flew onto
the music scene like a bat out of hell. Along with his rock superstardom, he’s also
built up a respectable acting career. But behind the scenes his life has often been
a nightmare. Here are the ups, downs, and all-around madness
of Meat Loaf’s tragic real-life story. Born Marvin Lee Aday, Meat Loaf learned from
a young age just how painful growing pains could get. Targeted by bullies because of his weight,
he tipped the scales at 185 pounds in fifth grade and 240 by seventh grade. He didn’t find much relief at home, as his
father Orvis frequently tormented him. Though he was a policeman, Orvis behaved like
a violent criminal. He was a belligerent alcoholic who slapped
his son around and threw him through a screen door. He disappeared for days on end. Meat Loaf’s mother Wilma worked as a schoolteacher
but also had the unenviable job of driving from bar to bar with her son in tow to search
for her husband. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1966, when Meat
Loaf was just 19. Soon after her funeral, Orvis burst into his
son’s bedroom brandishing a butcher knife. The singer narrowly avoided being stabbed
and, in the course of fighting for his life, broke his father’s nose and ribs. After that, he left his native Texas and made
a name for himself in Los Angeles doing musical theater. “It was either me or him. I fought my way out of that house.” The world has plenty of method actors, but
are there any method singers? Meat Loaf might just fit the bill. In 2004, he insisted to the Guardian, “I can’t sing at all! It sounds terrible until I put the scene together.” And in 2016, he told The Telegraph, “On any record I’ve ever done, you’ve never
heard Meat Loaf sing a song. They’ve all been characters.” From the sound of things, he’s spent most
of his life pretending to be someone else. Even as a high school shot put thrower, he
insists that he competed “in character,” which he believes helped him throw farther. Meat Loaf does a lot of pretending in interviews,
too. As journalist Lynn Barber has observed, the
singer has claimed to be born in both 1947 and 1951. When pressed about the discrepancy, he explained, “I just wanted to maintain a constant lie…Names
and ages piss me off. So I just continually lie.” In a 2016 Telegraph interview, Meat Loaf likened
himself to a, quote, “cat with 48 lives.” He explained that he’s fallen three stories
and had so many near misses that he should’ve died. Elsewhere, he’s claimed to have suffered 18
concussions and survived eight car crashes. According to one especially wild anecdote,
while he was in high school, a shot put state champion launched a 12-pound shot 62 feet
and hit him in the head, thus denting his skull. What’s especially strange is that the accident
supposedly improved his voice. At least that’s what he told Rolling Stone
in 2018. Before getting part of his cranium caved in
he apparently couldn’t carry a tune, and then suddenly he had a three-and-a-half-octave
vocal range. These accounts might read more like tall tales,
and Meat Loaf has, after all, admitted to lying habitually during interviews. But he does at least have a documented history
of onstage accidents and health troubles. In 2003, for example he underwent heart surgery
after collapsing mid-concert. He was later diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White
Syndrome, which creates an extra electrical pathway in the heart. Other injuries include collapsing on stage
in 2016 in Canada and a broken collarbone in 2019. According to Meat Loaf, he had a special front-row
seat to one of history’s most infamous killings, and in a separate incident one of history’s
most infamous killers had a seat in the singer’s car. On a 2006 episode of the Howard Stern Show,
Meat Loaf claimed that after the John F. Kennedy assassination, he and his friends got pulled
over by Secret Service agents who commandeered the singer’s car to drive it to the hospital. He claimed that he and his friends remained
in the vehicle until the president’s body arrived two hours later. But according to the book Like a Bat Out of
Hell: The Larger than Life Story of Meat Loaf, author Mick Wall recalled Meat Loaf telling
a different story. Per that version of events, he and his friends
drove to the hospital on their own, and someone with a badge halted them as they neared the
emergency room. They then supposedly saw Jackie Kennedy, still
dressed in her blood-spattered pink dress, emerge from a limo. In another dark anecdote, the singer allegedly
picked up a hitchhiking Charles Manson without realizing it. As he revealed in his autobiography To Hell
and Back, he spotted Manson on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The cult leader mentioned the Beach Boys and
asked Meat Loaf if he wanted to meet them. They supposedly rode to Dennis Wilson’s house,
where they were greeted by zero Beach Boys and Manson declared that the world would soon
end. 1978 marked a pivotal and perilous year for
Meat Loaf. He had become one of the most high-profile
performers on the planet, but his band grappled with infighting, insurrection, and drug abuse. But as Meat Loaf sang in “It’s All Coming
Back to Me Now,” “there were moments of gold.” Bat Out of Hell producer Todd Rundgren shared
the most golden moment with Billboard in 2017. In Bearsville, New York, Meat Loaf met his
first wife, Leslie, who was then a secretary for Bearsville Records. The pair married after knowing each other
for about a month. Rundgren recalled that Meat Loaf popped the
question in a comically creative way. At the Bear Cafe, he presented Leslie with
a giant whole salmon. As Rundgren put it, “It was as if a bear had proposed to his mate. Instead of a ring, a salmon.” The wedding was also a hoot, as Rundgren claimed
the priest was so old that he wasn’t able to tell the difference between Meat Loaf and
Leslie and referred to one as the other during the ceremony. It really seems to burn Meat Loaf’s gravy
when people say his voice has worsened with age. For example, after getting panned for his
performance at the 2011 Australian Football League grand final, he feuded with the AFL
for years. Still fuming in 2015, he called the league,
quote, “the cheapest people I’ve ever seen in my life.” He later apologized. In 2013, Meat Loaf complained that concertgoers
thought he had lost his voice because it fell short of how he sounded on Bat Out of Hell. He insisted that he had never sounded like
that, as the vocals on the album were sped up. He noted sinus and vocal cord surgeries as
explanations for any changes in his voice. Going back to the time after Bat Out of Hell’s
1977 release, he didn’t sound too much like himself then either, but for different reasons. Jim Steinman, who wrote all the songs on Bat
Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II, once said that Meat Loaf sounded like the little girl
in The Exorcist. His raging case of Linda Blair-voice lasted
for years, and it took six months of psychological therapy to restore his natural voice. Bat Out of Hell propelled Meat Loaf to the
top of the rock ‘n’ roll mountain. But, despite his commercial success, his bank
account was crumbling, and he was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1983. The road to financial hell was paved with
poor money management and expensive lawsuits. As the singer put it to Rolling Stone in 1993, “I was nuts. I mostly turned it inward. And it was all over being famous. I didn’t want people to call me a star.” Meat Loaf self-medicated with drugs and alcohol,
and his fruitful partnership with Jim Steinman was on life support. The two parted ways, though they reunited
in the nineties to make Bat Out of Hell II. In the meantime, Meat Loaf dropped five albums
that mostly fell on deaf ears. In Australia and Europe, he remained immensely
popular and toured there to butter his bread, but thanks to court battles with Steinman
and others, he ran out of bread. He claims that he was facing 45 lawsuits totaling
$80 million. Filing for bankruptcy put an end to the lawsuits. Sports have played an enormous role in Meat
Loaf’s life. A devoted New York Yankees fan, he and Jim
Steinman recruited baseball Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto to provide the iconic play-by-play
narration in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” A few years after knocking it out of the park
as a musician, Meat Loaf played a whole different ball game as a girls’ softball coach. A Connecticut resident at the time, Coach
Meat got involved with softball in 1981. He also sponsored a Little League team and
made history by drafting the first girl to a Stamford, Connecticut Little League team. He then went on to coach more teams in the
1990s. Jen Carlson was one of Coach Meat’s players. In a 2011 Deadspin article, she revealed that
he volunteered to coach her JV team when no one else would. He instilled a killer instinct, teaching the
girls this chant: “What do we wanna do? Kill! What do we need to do? Kill! What are we gonna do? Kill! What do big dogs do? KILL!” Meat Loaf took his role coaching Carlson’s
team seriously and only slipped into his singing character once. After the squad’s first win, he performed
“I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” which wouldn’t be released for another
two years. In 1987, Meat Loaf participated in the United
Kingdom’s Royal Knockout tournament. The event involved celebrities and members
of the royal family dressed as damsels, squires, and minstrels at an amusement park. The contest generated 1.5 million pounds for
charity. Eighteen million people watched the broadcast
and 400 million more worldwide saw it later. But Queen Elizabeth saw it all as a royal
pain. The costumes made real royal garb look silly,
Jane Seymour poked Tom Jones in the bum, someone threw a javelin at John Travolta, and rumor
has it that Meat Loaf angered the royal family. In 2003, Meat Loaf told The Guardian that
the queen hates him for putting his hands on Prince Andrew, who was supposedly upset
that his wife, Sarah Ferguson, seemed to want a piece of Meat. Andrew allegedly tried to shove Meat Loaf
into a moat, but the singer grabbed Andrew instead. As Meat Loaf recounted the story, “So I turned around and I grabbed him and
he goes, ‘You can’t touch me. I’m royal.’ I said, ‘Well you try to push me in the moat,
Jack, I don’t give a s— who you are, you’re goin’ in the moat.'” Perhaps that really did happen, or maybe Meat
Loaf told a whopper fit for a Burger King. “And let them never forget the day they came
to Alton dressed up as headless men and giant vegetables.” During the Bat Out of Hell tour in the late
seventies, Meat Loaf tortured himself constantly. He pushed himself so hard, in fact, that he
needed oxygen to be revived. “I mean, we strive for perfection, so nothing
will go out that’s not as good, if not better, than the last one.” His temper was almost as short as his breathing. When he insisted on starting a show by giving
speeches instead of singing, the band was booed and Meat Loaf flipped out about it backstage. He threw chairs and other objects in the dressing
room all over the place. Such outbursts were a common occurrence. Meat Loaf also threw microphone stands at
his band and at fans. In addition to wrecking dressing rooms, he
eventually wrecked his own body. He fractured his leg when he fell off the
stage while performing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” effectively ending the tour. Out of control and hooked on cocaine, he suffered
a nervous breakdown and threatened to leap from the ledge of a high-rise building. Fortunately, road manager Sam Ellis talked
him down from the ledge. If you or anyone you know is having suicidal
thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).